Wart Treatment

Over-the-counter salicylic acid is a commonly used medication to treat your warts. The salicylic acid is slowly and painlessly absorbed into the skin causing peeling of the skin cells that contain the wart virus. This is a very good way of getting rid of warts, but it should never be used to treat warts on the face, neck and genitals. Even if another treatment is being used (for example in office freezing or beetle juice), using salicylic acid at home speeds destruction of the wart by thinning it and any callus that has formed on or around it.

Salicylic acid preparations can be found in most drugstores and some supermarkets. There are typically two kinds of products: adhesive pads that are treated with salicylic acid or bottles of concentrated salicylic acid.

Products available typically include:

  • 17% Salicylic Acid Topical Liquid (Compound W or Dr. Scholl's*)

  • 40% Salicylic Acid Topical Liquid (Plantar Wart Remover*)

  • 40% Salicylic Acid pads (Corn Removal Pads*)

*Any store brand product with the recommended percent salicylic acid will work

Salicylic Acid Wart Treatment

  1. Thin down the wart with a pumice stone or nail file. File the area until all the white, dead skin is removed without causing discomfort or pain.  Make sure not to share pumice stones or nail files because the wart virus can be transmitted on these.  Sometimes soaking the wart in warm water helps to soften the wart.  You may soak the wart for 5-10 minutes before filing it down. 

  2. Apply the solution or pad(s) to the wart(s).  You may cut pads to size if necessary.

  3. Cover with a Band-aid or duct tape. If the wart is on a less workable area, such as the finger, smaller electrical tape may work better since it stretches.

  4. Repeat process every night before bed until your next appointment.


Stop sooner if the wart falls off, swelling/drainage develops at the site, or the area becomes too irritated or painful.  Please call the dermatology clinic if these symptoms persist.  

This wart treatment should be well tolerated and easy to use at home.  Some mild discomfort, burning, skin redness and peeling is expected while using the wart treatment.  This means that the wart is going away.